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“Why Won’t They Stop Talking!”. Strategies to Reduce Inappropriate Play and Talk During Instruction. Why Won’t They Stop Talking!. Strategies to Reduce Inappropriate Play and Talk During Instruction By Nicole Campbell Te 891, Spring 2005 Professor Mark Conley April 13, 2005.

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why won t they stop talking

“Why Won’t They Stop Talking!”

Strategies to Reduce Inappropriate Play and Talk During Instruction

why won t they stop talking2
Why Won’t They Stop Talking!

Strategies to Reduce Inappropriate Play and Talk During Instruction

By Nicole Campbell

Te 891, Spring 2005

Professor Mark Conley

April 13, 2005


Research Abstract

My instruction time is often hindered by inappropriate behavior and

excessive talking when I teach. I feel that the content is relevant,

but I struggle at times with keeping their attention. This action

research project is designed to take a better look at my current

teaching practices, specifically how it affects student productivity.

through the process of data collection & analysis, and researching

what others have learned about this subject, I have identified

areas that would result in positive change in my current teaching



Research Purpose

Identify factors that contribute to the lack of attention and motivation in students.


Research Question

What steps can be taken to reduce lost instructional time due to excessive talking and inappropriate play?

Sub Questions:

  •  Why aren’t the activities I plan holding my student’s interest?
  •  Are my lessons paced appropriately (i.e. amount of information, any special needs)?
  •  What outside factors may be contributing to this lack of attention and motivation?

Data Collection

 Student observation- Students will be “set up” during various lessons to try and determine any triggers for behaviors to be studied.

 Interviews- Students will be interviewed to determine what they would like to see done differently during lessons, and what is working well.

  • Colleague Observation-Will visit all of the other classrooms in my school (eight classrooms from 1st grade to 8th grade). Will use template created by professors Rebecca Shankland and Kathleen Moxley, currently teaching TE 840.

 Learning from others- Research current articles and documents on this subject to learn what others have done.


Research Timeline

Time Line


1. Send letter to parents

2. Begin student observations (one lesson daily for 2-3 weeks)


1. Conduct Student Interviews (each student will be interviewed separately).

2. Colleague observations will begin. Each teacher will be observed for the duration of a full lesson. Ample time is given in case multiple visits are necessary.


1. Final stages of data analysis

2. Final write-up and presentation of findings.


Data Analysis (part 1)

Student Observations

Student were purposely placed in situations that would require them to apply self-control skills, problem solving strategies, and team work. I have two students that are usually the first to start distractions when they are bored or don't understand the work. I put them at the same table for this study. True to my expectations, they fought every change they could get. When I was with their view, they simply played together or tumbled around on the carpet while I would attend to a scraped knee, hair beads that came out of a girl's hair, a student with no pencil, etc. 


Data Analysis (part 1)

Student Observations (Cont.)

When I was in another part of the room where they I could not see them, the real battle would begin. I would come back to into their view and have one of them come up to me in tears telling me what the other person did. Of course they never did a thing to warrant such aggression and would immediately demand recompense. This happened time and time again. I also began to notice that other students would have similar, but less severe problems with one another. 


Data Analysis (part 2)


The student interviews were merely designed to give me insight into what my students want. The usually comments were made like learning about sentences, math, enjoying free play and field trips, etc. What was interesting to me was that when I asked students what was the one thing that they would like to see improved in the classroom all of them had answers that fell under four categories. They said that during lessons people need to stop: 1) fighting, 2) playing, 3)hitting, and 4) talking.


Data Analysis (part 3)

Colleague Observations

I did not find anything differently than I expected. Each teacher had their own teaching style, and students behaved in various ways. I did notice however, that the classrooms that flowed the best were the ones in which the teacher was prepared and had routines established that were consistently followed.


Data Analysis (part 4)

What Others Have Learned

  • In addition to literacy and other academic subjects, social emotional development is an a crucial factor in determining success in kindergarten.
  • Lesson and unit planning plays a major role in how well lessons and day-to-day activities flow in the classroom.
  • Students need to feel ownership and a sense of community in the classroom. This enables them to treat materials better, complete assignments in a timely manner, and cooperate with their peers.

Data Analysis (part 4)

What Others Have Learned

  • Family life/outside factors play a major role in student productivity and cooperation. It is imperative that teachers make a connection with each family to take better advantage of the prior knowledge that each child brings to school.
  • Students with disabilities learn a great deal by being paired up with class buddies. The goal is to take the focus away from the disability by placing them in the least restrictive environment.


that they use to work out their differences, but I don't think that it is working for every situation.

  • Other than growing 6 more arms like “Doc Oc”, I suppose I need to implement a better problem solving strategy. Currently, I have a communication carpet that they use to work out their differences, but it does not work for every situation.
  • Students are as tired as I am with all of the distractions and interruptions!
  • Students tend to have the most difficulty on Mondays, due to events that have taken place over the weekend, and on Fridays, because it tends to be the day that is the least structured.

Findings (Cont.)

  • In reviewing my lesson plans, I have noticed that there have been inconsistencies in activities. Consequently, students have found it difficult to catch on to the routines in our classroom.
  • Transition times are too long.
  • While it is appropriate to be spontaneous and change the lessons when needed, I have found that I do this quite a bit. While looking for the resources for the new activity, they become unsettled and see this as time to play.

Findings (Cont.)

  • Student comments suggested that during lessons people need to stop: 1) fighting, 2) playing, 3)hitting, and 4) talking.
  • Students lack in communication skills, as well as understanding the boundaries of personal safety.
  • Many times students lash out due to frustrations relating from events/situations that took place outside of the school setting.
  • Some students that exhibit inappropriate behavior do so when they are done with their assignments and do not have “early bird” work available to them after their class work has been completed.


  • Continue to use the communication carpet, but use additional resources such as lessons on how to communicate with others, as well as bring in guests (school social workers, other teachers, community workers/leaders, etc.). This will also reduce the amount of fights and disputes amongst students.
  • Try and limit distractions. Make it clear to people what to do when entering the classroom, and when it is not a good time. Post a sign on the door if necessary.
  • Planning, planning, and more planning. This was my weakest area when I did not student internship, and I still have to work hard and making sure I have all of my supplies ready before I begin a lesson.


  • For so long, I use to really beat myself up because I would change strategies right in the middle of a lesson. I now realize that I depend greatly on my sense of spontaneity. Rather than fighting, I just simply need to have alternate ways to teach a lessons ready because I know I will change up at the drop of a hat.
  • Have special activities and time to allow students to talk about their weekend and give opportunities for them to talk privately with me if needed.
  • Reduce transition time by developing a list of transition activities they can do quickly and independently while I am preparing for the next lesson. A good idea is to give them more class jobs and responsibilities they can fulfill while I am getting ready.


  • Reinforce more often that ours is a classroom community where everyone is needed and important.
  • Have alternate activities for students that finish sooner than the others, or allow them to assist other students.
  • Enlist the help of parents and other adults to volunteer on a regular basis in the classroom to help prepare lesson materials. I plan to invite parents in a few days before school starts next year to help laminate, cut, staple, glue (whatever!) items that we use regularly. Other opportunities will present themselves later on in the year as well.
  • Mare sure accommodations are made for students receiving special education services and be on the look out for undiagnosed needs.

Final Thought

Consistency really is the key. Students tend to sense when teachers are are not prepared, and they act on it. I firmly believe that once I have a better sense of preparedness as I teach, student talking and play during lessons will decrease dramatically.